The night did not start well for the Portage Central Mustangs, they did not get out to their usual, strong start. The Eagles scored first, then the Mustangs started parading to the penalty box and the players’ frustration level was visible from the stands. The Mustangs' were able to generate a few chances and it finally paid off. John Hayward blocked an Eagle clearing pass and Hunter Maschke pounced on the puck, skated across the slot and fired it past the goalie’s glove to tie the game at 1. That goal seemed to lift the Mustang spirits for a short time, but the game stayed tied through the rest of the first period, with the Eagles outshooting the Mustangs 9-5.
The second period wasn’t much better as the Eagles added two more goals and the Mustangs could not get one past the Eagle goaltender, despite generating more chances and outshooting the Eagles 16-10 in the second period.
The Eagles scored a shorthanded goal 2 minutes into the third period to make it 4-1 and the chances for victory were starting to look bleak. Luckily, the Mustangs were still on the powerplay and 30 seconds later, the Mustangs took advantage. Konner McLeod drew an Eagle defender towards him, then dished a sweet pass to Maschke as he broke into the slot. Maschke deked the goalie left, then flipped a backhand shot over the goalie to light the lamp and ignite the Mustang comeback. The goal seemed to wake up the Mustangs and the give them hope.
On the ensuing face-off, McLeod intercepted an Eagle pass in the neutral zone and sprinted into the offensive zone. McLeod pushed the puck up the board, then cut in behind the defenseman, straight to the net and tried to slam the puck under the goalie’s pads. The goalie was able to stop that shot, but Maschke was right there and buried the rebound to earn a Hat Trick and bring the Mustangs one goal closer at 3-4. Energy and momentum were clearly on the Mustangs’ side and the comeback was in full swing.
The Mustangs rode that momentum and scored again 87 seconds later. Canyon Morse skated the puck into the offensive zone along the boards. As Morse was being checked off the puck, he pushed it down the boards and behind the net. McLeod swooped behind the net and picked up the puck. McLeod passed it to Will Anderson in the slot. Anderson fired the puck on net where it hit an Eagle defender in front and fluttered over the goalie and into the net. The Mustangs has just erased a 3 goal deficit in 1 minute and 40 second!
The Kalamazoo Eagles called a timeout to catch their breath and try to kill the Mustangs’ momentum. It worked for a bit as the teams battled back and forth with the game tied at 4. A slashing penalty to the Mustangs gave the Eagles a powerplay opportunity. The Eagles took advantage of the opportunity and got a lucky goal when a point shot rebounded off Mustang goaltender Bryan Gracey's pads, hit a Mustang defenseman and bounced backwards into the net. The Eagles had regained the lead 5-4 with 9:49 left in the game.
The Mustangs did not give up and kept the pressure on. The teams traded chances back and forth for the next few minutes. After another long range shot by the Eagles, Gracey stopped the puck and directed it to Mustang defenseman John Hayward. Hayward grabbed the puck and sliced his way through the Eagles, finishing his coast to coast rush with a power move around the Eagles defense, into the crease and slamming the puck past the goalie and into the net! Hayward's goal tied the game again with 5:31 left to play.
Less than a minute later, the Mustangs would finally take the lead. Jaden Sorenson stood up an Eagle forward at the defensive blue line and took the puck away from him. This turnover resulted in a 2 on 1 breakaway for the Mustangs. J. Sorenson and Luke Spoule entered the zone and split apart. Sorenson carried the puck and drew the defenseman towards him. Sorenson then passed the puck to Sproule who cut back across the front of the crease and backhanded the puck into the net for a 6-5 lead and the game winning goal.
Bryan Gracey finished the game with 27 saves on 32 shots. Hunter Maschke (3G), Konner McLeod (3A), and Justin Hayward (1G, 1A) each had multiple points in the game.